Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Instinctive responses to global warming/cooling vary by region

It is snowing again in the U.S. northeast, where we are having a winter more evocative of my New England childhood in the 1960s. No roofs are spared the ominous ice dams, and you can hardly see over the snowbanks. Much of the United States has experienced a similiarly rough winter. What happened to global warming?

Well, once again, ask the Australians. They seem to be living in the equivalent of Death Valley, California, with temperatures in Melbourne and Adelaide ranging from 109 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit, amid a 12-year-long drought. I hiked in Badwater, Death Valley this year where it was 109 F., and neither the landscape nor the temperature seemed to belong on Planet Earth.

The point is that weather is not climate, and that forming an opinion about global warming versus cooling based on the weather outside, however tempting, is short-sighted.

At any given moment you can find opposite representative examples of weather extremes in the world, such as Australia versus the top of Mount Washington (where Summer is really summery, and winter is really wintry).

The National Academies of Science and the Royal Society lean strongly toward global warming, as in forming a scientific consensus that unchecked manmade greenhouse gases can trigger dangerous feedback mechanisms.

As the AccuWeather global warming blog points out, a recent study indicates tht Antartica has indeed been warming during the last 50 years.

Finally, 2008 turned out to have been about the ninth warmest year globally since 1880.

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